Our current School Director, Donna Fidler, is retiring at the end of the Summer Term. Donna has successfully led Step by Step for over 14 years since its opening in March 2004. The school has grown since that time from its original intake of four pupils to its current size of 26 pupils and 52 staff. We are very grateful for her commitment and for the strong leadership that has enabled our school to become an outstanding provision for teaching pupils with autism.
HEAD TEACHER HIRED!
We are now very pleased to announce the appointment of Gayle Adam who will replace Donna in the new role of Headteacher, Step by Step School, from September 2018.
Gayle is currently Executive Head Teacher of the CDP Federation, which includes three special needs schools in the Brighton area with over 50 staff. She has nearly 20 years of teaching and leadership experience in the SEN sector and holds the NPQH (National Professional Qualification for Headship). Gayle is passionate about improving the quality of life of pupils with autism and their families.
Please join the Governors and Senior Management Team in thanking Donna and wishing her well and in welcoming Gayle to Step by Step School.
A massive “Thank You” to Georgina Grubb who pushed herself to the limit by running the Barcelona Marathon to raise over £2000 for us. Georgie is the daughter of our landlord, Tony Grubb, and our original school building, “Jo’s Barn”, is named in memory of Tony’s sister who died tragically in a car accident when she was just 21.
“I must admit that Sunday’s marathon was without a doubt the most extreme physical and mental challenge I have ever put myself through (especially in such tropical temperatures!) I did, however, always find the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other in my moments of weakness as I thought about Step by Step and Auntie Jo.
I have such vivid memories of the opening of Jo’s Barn, where my siblings and I read poems that we had written in her memory, and how excited we all were regarding the creation of a school that promised to change the lives of so many children. I know that you have all gone on to prove that this is indeed possible, and are creating a legacy on that beautiful patch of Sussex countryside. What a fantastic team and a magical place.”
With the money Georgie has raised we’ve been able to buy equipment for our fabulous new gym.
We have now received £25k from Wooden Spoon, which is the children’s charity of rugby. The money was used to fund the Outdoor Classroom adjacent to the Hall. The Grand Opening was held on 16 November and was attended by 16 members of Wooden Spoon and the East Grinstead Rugby Football Club, two of our governors (Hilary and Karen), the Head of Cumnor House School and his wife and James Harding, who dedicated the project.
Funds came from a number of donations which had been given to Wooden Spoon to pool and then decide to which charities they would give this year. One source of donations was Cumnor House School which donated the funds raised at their Christmas Fair two years ago. Additional funds were raised by one of the Cumnor parents, James Harding, who in April 2015 trekked to the Magnetic North Pole to set a Guinness World Record by playing the northernmost rugby match in history.
Everyone who attended thought the project was an excellent idea and very good value for money. Special thanks go to Sam Matthews who initiated the idea, contacted Wooden Spoon and steered it to completion.
We have been very fortunate to receive another generous donation of £5400 from the Keswick to Barrow charity walk this year. One of our parents, Jamie Roberts and his friends have formed the “Tonka Fingers” Team who take part in The Keswick to Barrow 40 mile walk every year to raise money for charities all over the UK.
“It has been great to support you and everyone at the school again this year. We had a great turnout and good collection on sponsorship, so I am pleased we managed to raise so much.” – Jamie was delighted to tell us.
We will be using the money to fund our many school outings to the local outdoor pursuits centre at Hindleap Warren, where the pupils participate in activities such as canoeing, archery, climbing , zip wire, wood walks and some overnight stays.
Jamie’s employer, ExCel London, are running a Christmas competition for the best charitable efforts carried out in 2016. He has been selected to put the Tonka Fingers team forward to win additional money for our school. The top prize is £2,000 and lowest prize £500 so please vote now!
A big thank you and congratulations to Sian Kelly , Occupational Therapist at Step by Step School, who completed her first ever Marathon run at the Brighton Marathon on Sunday 19th April. Sian raised in excess of £1K for sensory equipment at Step by Step. Very well done Sian!!
Another runner, already one of our Step by Step Champions, Stuart Walker, Golf Professional at Epsom Golf Club, very kindly ran for a second time to raise money for the school. Stuart has raised in the region of £3000 so a very special thank you to him for his continued support. Stuart will be back on the scene for our Golf Day Fundraiser in May.
Step by Step Occupational Therapist Sian Kelly and Epsom Golf Club Pro Stuart Walker are running in the Brighton Marathon this Sunday 17th April to raise valuable funds for our school.
It will be Stuart’s second run for us and Sian’s debut marathon. It’s sure to be an heroic effort, so good luck to them both and we look forward to hearing how they get on. You can donate via their respective Just Giving pages: Sian Kelly Just Giving and Stuart Walker Just Giving.
A massive thank you to Harry, brother of one of our pupils, for his heroic fundraising swim.
Coming from a strong family tradition of fundraisers, he smashed his original target of £100 to raise an incredible £333 for Step by Step.
While planning to gain his 1 mile swimming club badge with a 64 length swim, Harry had the idea to use the event to raise valuable funds for his brother’s school.
A pleased and relieved Harry told us: “Many thanks for all your kind donations. I managed to swim the 1 mile in approximately 45 minutes using breaststroke and backstroke. I was tired but really enjoyed my pizza afterwards!!”
Josh Hilton who is our Admin Manager, Sam Matthews’ son, followed in his parents’ footsteps by making a skydive in June 2015 and raising a cool £1400 for Step by Step.
“Mum and Dad were some of the founding members who set up the school and my brother Max was lucky enough to attend there for 5 years. The school helped him so much and unlocked potential in him that no-one thought he had. The school only gets funding for teaching costs and has to fundraise for all teaching resources, play equipment, IT equipment, trips out etc. I would like to contribute towards something that the pupils there will benefit from and be able to use to help them learn. Please help me raise some money for this fantastic school.”
You can continue to support Josh at his Just Giving page.
A big thank you to Jake and Alice Gordon-Clark who took part in the “Big Swim” a 1 mile open water swim from Port Gaverne to Port Isaac in Cornwall. With over 120 competitors, both Jake and Alice managed to finish in the top 30.
The event does have links to local sponsors however Jake and Alice asked people to sponsor them for Step by Step so that they could raise money directly for the school.
“As you can see from the picture, it was a fun event raising around £750 for Step by Step which I’m sure will be put to good use. For Alice and I it’s something we can both do on an annual basis as a small token of our appreciation for the school’s work with our son and the other pupils.” Jake told us.
We were delighted that so many of you were able to join us for the 10th Anniversary celebration on 10 May.
We were worried in the morning that the rain would continue to fall and our plans to mingle outside would be ruined. However, in the same spirit of good will that been with us since the onset, the sun began to shine at noon and continued right up until we finished around 4pm! We all enjoyed a delicious lunch in a beautiful marquee – we do hope you all enjoyed yourselves.
Welcoming families, friends and founders our Chairperson, Susan James, described the challenges we faced after four mothers of children with autism met in Crowborough in 2004 and decided to open a school.
We do owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the founding families and the commemorative plaque which we had made will hang on the outside of the Barn. We are also pleased that two of those founding members, Sam Matthews and Susan James, continue to be involved with school to this day!
School Director Donna Fidler and Chair Susan James address founding members and guests
Governor Stuart King presents commemorative plaque while architect Les Bains receives a well deserved gift. Landlord Tony Grubb shares his memories of the early days with the audience
Our founding members proudly display the 10th anniversary plaque
Stuart Walker swapped his golf clubs for running shoes as he competed in his first ever marathon in Brighton in April raising over £3000 for Step by Step.
Stuart is the PGA Professional at Epsom Golf Course. He is already known to us for lending his considerable support to Step by Step by being involved in the smooth running of our successful Golf Day Fundraisers.
A huge thanks from all at Step by Step to Stuart for this fantastic achievement.
Joan Jordan, one of our parents at Step by Step, successfully swam 22 miles over 11 weeks to raise valuable funds for the school.
Before the event Joan told us: “I will be swimming the same distance as Dover to Calais in 11 weeks to raise funds for the wonderful Step by Step. I swim most days anyway, so I might as well swim for my son’s school.”
She raised a fantastic £111 for us. Many thanks to Joan from everyone at Step by Step.
We are incredibly grateful for the outstanding donation of £8168 given to us by Jamie Roberts, one of our Step by Step parents.
On a cold and wet May day, Jamie and his team of 56 walkers completed the gruelling 40 mile Keswick to Barrow walk.
Starting early at 4.30am, the route took them through the picturesque scenery of the Lake District with the steady ascent of Kirkby Moor providing a real challenge.
They generously raised money for several other charities with Step by Step chosen as the main beneficiary for this year. A big thank you to Jamie and the team, we want them all to know how much we appreciate their donations.
Although we were closed for the month of August, the school saw lots of activity as the mezzanine floor of Jo’s Barn was installed.
A team of builders, carpenters and electricians, supervised by our architect Les Bain, completed the entire project in six weeks. We were sent progress photos along the way and it looked, as one parent put it, like “60 Minute Makeover”!
We now have two classrooms in Jo’s Barn, taking our total number of classrooms to five. The mezzanine floor has desks for nine staff members.
We were very pleased to welcome Dr Vincent Carbone (BCBA-D) back to Step by Step in October.
Dr Carbone has over 35 years of experience designing learning environments for people with autism and development disabilities and his training is always inspirational and motivating.
Dr Carbone spent time in each class observing staff and pupils, interacting and offering comments and ideas. After the children had gone, the staff team received advanced training with Dr Carbone. He was able to use his class-based observations to inform his training on specific strategies to promote pupil learning and spoke on topics which included:
Teaching in the natural environment for early, intermediate and advanced learners
Developing social skills and peer interactions
Teaching activities of daily living
The staff found the training very useful and they are already implementing ideas which are proving very effective for pupil progress. Dr Carbone wrote to us after his visit to tell us how great it was to work with our team again. He thanked us for the opportunity to work with us and said he thinks we are doing fine work.
You will be delighted to hear that our Curry Lunch Event was a big success in every way. Charlotte Ceccato, Chair of Step by Step Parents’ Association was pleased to say:
“We filled Nizam Restaurant to capacity with friends and families of Step by Step. The atmosphere was wonderful, the Curry lunch was delicious, the raffle prizes were gratefully received, our children did amazingly well and a good time was had by all.
Thanks to your support we raised a hugely impressive figure of over £2,000 for Step by Step. Committee members will meet with the school next term to discuss how best to spend the money on equipment for the children and we will report back to you.
A heartfelt ‘thank you’ to all of you who attended and to everyone who contributed to raffle prizes and raffle ticket sales.
A very special ‘thank you’ to Alice Gordon-Clark who had the original idea of this fundraiser. Alice negotiated and arranged everything with the restaurant, she filled many of the tables with her supporters and through incredible efforts and her gift of persuasion she garnered the majority of the 45 prizes for the raffle. Alice, on behalf of all of us, thank you so very much.”
On a bright December day we were delighted to welcome supporters of Sussex Wooden Spoon to the grand opening of our new all weather cycle track and play area.
With parents, governors and staff looking on, the project funded by a generous £16,000 donation was officially opened by ex London Irish and Ireland international Justin Bishop. Justin, born in West Sussex, and now coach at East Grinstead RFC was honoured to attend this happy event.
Also present, resplendent in their Wooden Spoon blazers, were CEO Bill Hill, Capital Projects Director Brian Hodges and representatives from TNT.
School Director Donna Fidler said: “This fantastic new facility will give pupils the opportunity to improve co-ordination skills and enjoy outdoor physical activity throughout the year.”
A very special thank you to Matt Lee, colleague and friend of Parent Governor Brian Ikin who has raised nearly £10000 running the 2012 Brighton Marathon.
In almost perfect conditions Matt came in at 3 hours, 51 minutes and 55 seconds. ” Elated at dipping under 4 hours, emotional and very tired. In those dark miles when the going is brutal, the thing that put wind in my sails is looking around at fellow runners and seeing the amazing effort they’re all putting in for some incredible causes – it’s one of the most enriching experiences one could ever be involved in.”
We have made fantastic progress with our fundraising efforts for our new playground. Since the beginning in the year we have raised an amazing £63000.
We have finished the ground work, fencing and grassed area and will soon install the fitness equipment and in-ground trampoline. Our next step is to raise more funds so that we can create a soft and hard games area and a cycle path.
We are very much indebted to all of the individuals and groups who have been supporting us and these include: 7 Staff Members past and present (Three Peaks Challenge) £3400, Heather Garrod and partner Mike who raised over £2000 running the Berlin Marathon, The East Grinstead Rugby Football Club – £3000, The Wooden Spoon Society – £20000 and the Clothworkers’ Company – £25000.
In addition, two very generous spirited individuals (one staff, one family) had birthday celebrations and asked for donations to be made to the school instead of receiving gifts. This brought us an additional £750.
Staff from Step by Step found themselves at the centre of a mountain rescue when they undertook a mammoth fund-raising expedition.
Eight tutors were attempting to climb the three highest peaks in the UK – Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike, and Snowdon – within 24 hours.
They’d made it to the top of Ben Nevis and were on their way down when, in fading light, they came across an elderly couple who were exhausted, confused, and lost.
“Although we were in a rush to continue our trip, we couldn’t leave them,” said Leila Stayton, one of the Step by Step group. The police were called, and the group escorted the couple down the mountain to safety.
The couple knew they had no chance of getting down on their own, and had thought they’d have to spend the night on the mountain, but they had no equipment or food, and were wearing only light clothes – so the risk of exposure would have been high.
When the elderly pair were in the safe hands of the emergency services, the Step by Step party rushed down to the Lake District to tackle Scafell Pike, and then to North Wales to complete the trip by scaling Snowdon.